Record Sealing Eligibility in DC

The following are frequently asked questions on who is eligible to have their record sealed in Washington, DC. To discuss your situation contact a DC expungement lawyer today for a free consultation.

What Are Some Circumstances Where Individuals May be Eligible to Have Their Record Sealed?

There are generally two circumstances in the District of Columbia where a person is eligible to have their record sealed. One is if they can prove that they were innocent of crime of which they were charged and the other is if they can prove that it’s in the interest of justice to seal their records. There are other offense-specific sealing provisions; defendants who are convicted and sentenced prior to their twenty-second birthday may be eligible for an automatic sealing of their record, but they are less common and not generally applicable to all defendants.

Can a Conviction For a Misdemeanor Offense Be Sealed?

Yes, under certain circumstances. A conviction for a misdemeanor offense can be sealed provided that the person does not have what the statute calls a disqualifying arrest or disqualifying conviction.

A disqualifying arrest is any pending charge. So, if a person had a conviction three years ago and then two months ago was arrested for some other crime and that case has not been resolved, then that person can’t file a motion an interest of justice motion until after the new case is over. Even then, the new arrest would have a waiting period which would delay sealing the older case.

A disqualifying conviction is any conviction subsequent to the original one. Essentially, the DC Council wrote the interest of justice statute in such a way that people are eligible to seal a single conviction. After that, they are usually precluded from sealing earlier convictions.

What About Felony Convictions? Can Those Be Sealed?

For the most part, no. The only felony conviction that is sealable in the District of Columbia is what’s called the Bail Reform Act violation. It’s commonly referred to as a failure to appear.

If a person is charged with a felony, for example robbery and then they don’t come to a court date, then they can also be charged with felony Bail Reform Act violation or felony failure to appear. That is the only felony conviction that is eligible to be sealed under the interest of justice provision.

What Are Some Long Term Advantages To Having An Individual’s Record Sealed?

There are a host of advantages to having a sealed record. For some people, it’s just peace of mind. They can move on and not have to worry that a friend or a colleague will notice that they have criminal record. Criminal records are publicly available on court websites all over the country. You can  Google somebody’s name and find out if they’ve been arrested or convicted, so just clearing one’s name alone is a huge advantage.

Other than that, the main advantage is letting somebody move on with their life as if they never been arrested. Everybody makes mistakes and the idea of these record sealing motions is to forgive people for those mistakes and let them be positive contributing members of society.  That’s what the record sealing case is really about and that’s what having one of those motions granted is about. It’s allowing somebody to function in society just the way that anybody else would whether they’d been arrested or not.